NOTE: The author designed it as an essay to the environment depicted one of the books he is currently writing, Eminencio Magnifico.
INDOLENCE OF THE FILIPINOS IN THE 21ST CENTURY – 1st Chapter
By: Joshua Alvarez
Dr. Jose Rizal, in his Indolence of the Filipinos, has analyzed the prevailing indolence of the Filipinos, relying upon accounts of historians like Antonio Pigafetta, Morga, Marsden, Gaspar de San Agustin, Meyer and Colin, countering the denial of Dr. Sancianco, with the intent of snapping his fellow Filipinos out of their indolence by making them aware of it.
Nevertheless, even though what Dr. Rizal recommended have already been implemented and given the liberties and access to education, the indolence has still prevailed, surviving the changing of the guards of the colonizers. It has become more elusive yet prevalent. It has survived through liberalism and enlightenment. Like a virus that survived medication, it has mutated into a violent and contagious one.
As one of the nation’s scholars who live off the taxpayers’ money and as one of the people who benefited the most from the upwelling of knowledge brought by liberalism, it is my duty to unveil the secrets behind the problems of the society, disregarding public scorning in the future, denial, enduring the social persecution, and departing from my own happiness. Employing the same approach as my first essay, “The Capsule and The Trade of Rights” I will study this new question thoroughly, setting aside my vanity, selfishness, narcissism and friendship from both the upper class and the lower class, my partiality, and fear of that persecution.
The only time one serves the country is when the person says the truth without a motive of revenge or redemption. I believe that the truth cannot be negated by any brilliant arguments coming from our society that turned into an overly-sensitive stagnant body. I will depart and stand-up against the prevailing monopoly of principles and viewpoints of my colleagues. I write this upon you knowing that I will gain enemies as a result. Some may deny the idea and some may accept it. With the acceptance of some, it would jumpstart a social debate. The social debate must be open for all to participate, in order to pursue the truth, a pursuit that has long been hindered by indolence.
The word indolence has been greatly associated with Juan Tamad, the epitome of indolence or in Tagalog, katamaran. Its survival amidst the wave of liberalism, technology and advancement on the education sector proved that Dr. Rizal failed to fully unveil the truth on indolence, due to random partiality, thus failing its purpose. Despite the existence of an abstract cult on Dr. Rizal, his Indolence of the Filipinos was one of the most overlooked works of him. It is because of two reasons: one being too technical and the other being too scrutinizing to the sensitive Filipinos. Both of those reasons were in fact manifestations of indolence already. Despite its technicality, one should have the determination to extract the ideas, especially when it was in the mother tongue already. One should work hard to appreciate the reward. But like Juan Tamad who waited for the apple to fall into his mouth, we just wanted everything to be spoon-fed to us. So in the end, we haven’t gotten full use of that apple, whose fate rested on either the birds that ate the apple already, or time, which brought spoilage and decay to the apple.
In the modern day and age, it is no longer the devil that is blamed for the shortcomings. They now always place the blame on the incompetent government as if they were always the victims of fate. In reality, indolence has attributed to both those shortcomings and the incompetence of government. The evolution of government and its misdeeds are both the cause and effect of indolence. They were contributors to its vicious cycle. The monopoly of ideas and principles, which was a result of indolence on open debates, held by those who think of themselves highly, silences those who had better approaches, those who had better alternatives, for the sake of pride.
The misinterpretation of eradicating indolence as an act of oppression further worsens the situation by spoiling those indolent who thought were suffering injustices. They blame the government on everything to the point that the idea becomes a dogma. As Dr. Rizal stated, the worse happens to those who seek the origin of the trouble outside of accepted beliefs.
The truth has long been shrouded by public sentiment. Even though the thought was wretched, as long as it has been passed down through generations, it would be treated as the truth by many. Tracing the roots to the truth is rendered impossible for it is like finding the virus isolated in nature. Like a doctor, the virus is to be extracted from the sick patient himself in order to make study of the illness and its effects. The doctor must distinguish the conditions that inhibit the invasion of the virus from the conditions that the virus caused. In the modern day and age, the people accepted the answers that entertain them and not the answers that help them.
For what Dr. Rizal saw and experienced into writing his Indolence of the Filipinos is now different from the current situation here in the opening years of the 21st century, we must re-examine well, taking all the accounts of men, scenes that our eyes saw and the men we have known, either from the upper-class or the lower-class, either from the educated or the uneducated. Filipinos, according to their foreign employers, are the most industrious people in the world, will doubtless repudiate to admit that indolence exist in the Philippines. It is true that Filipinos work and struggle against injustices and nature. But we must not limit ourselves into seeing ourselves as the ones oppressed and we should rather look at the bigger picture to find the truth for the welfare of our country. Even though the times have changed, we must admit that indolence exist rather than denying it. We must not consider that indolence is only the effect of the trouble and backwardness. We must take into consideration that the indolence is also the cause of the trouble and backwardness.
We know there were people like Dr. Rizal and Dr. Sancianco who has studied its causes. Dr. Sancianco denied its existence but Dr. Rizal affirmed it. Nevertheless, Dr. Rizal tried to give the cure but failed due to the limited analysis of the illness, for the cure must not come from his alone for his views only come from those in the middle class. Another factor that lead to the failure of his analysis is the lack of prediction on the reactions of his patient to the cure that he administered, contrary to that of his analysis on Filipinas Dentro Gen Años.
Even though the virus has mutated into a more violent type, we shall proceed in analyzing the illness. We shall also study the inclinations of various people, treating them as varying responses of patients from the same virus.
Dr. Rizal incited that hot climate inhibits the urge of the individual to rest while cold climate inhibits the individual to work. Most of the Filipinos, who were slaves or workers of the Spanish officials, see their masters’ indolence as a response to hot climate. The climate is very much different from the European climate, therefore, they were not given a chance to catch a glimpse of their masters’ output to the colder climate. Once the people were granted liberties during and after the revolution, they took indolence as their right inherited from their previous masters. For 300 years, the Filipinos experienced forced labor. Experiencing these arduous works with little or no compensation, these people would soon despise labor.
A general once left a remark during the 2nd phase of the Philippine revolution: “You can compare a born republic to a baby learning to walk. He will give his utmost effort to stand even though he knew that he could fall. But at the initial stage of the republic, it was more like a slave who used to do the same thing all over again all his life being freed. He doesn’t know what to do with his freedom. He will only follow his liberators and will never take order from his fellow slaves, even though they were more capable that his liberator. The Filipinos were like dogs unleashed. They would run wild initially but when you offer them another leashes, although looser ones which were intended for their welfare, they would refuse. Liberty to them is to be their former tyrant. “ Rizal’s theory in Dentro Gen Años was proven correct.
As to the middle-class people, they oversaw the extravagant life of the Creoles, the Peninsulars and Insulars during the feudal stages of Filipino society. These feudal lords, or ecomenderos, showed extravagant lifestyle that the Indios wanted to experience also. It is because of their limited view of life that they interpreted free life as associated with luxurious living. It is with that reason that the middle-class offer less participation to the actions associated with the advancement of a nation, towards nation-building, over the past century. If they were proactive during the transition, the middle-class would have contested the determination of the direction of the progress dictated by the upper-class people, who were now taking full control of what the Spanish elites left. The middle-class people became obsessed into fulfilling their luxuries instead, ruining their potential.
The upper-class people, on the other hand, who were initially composed of the Creoles and Mestizos, were enjoying greater privileges from the established Philippine government for they were feeling that the government should be indebted to them. Exploiting that sense of debt of gratitude, the Philippine government and society became what Migdal have described, where the government was weak due to the empowerment of different sectors of society. Rather than a 3rd party adjutant, the government, moving on all fours, sided with the powerful sector of society. Those sectors, who should be chasing for nationalistic advocacy, out of their greed and lust, became conservative where progress was only directed to them and where they prefer the society to remain stagnant to retain the status quo.
These people, who were mostly educated, were more aware of literature regarding class struggle, including the previous essays of Dr. Rizal, therefore they saw awareness as the greatest threat to the current status quo where they most benefited. They employed hegemony. They manipulated the environment so that the people on the lower class will become preoccupied of their short-term goals, rather than adhere on nationalistic and collective actions which they feared that might tip the balance. They messed up the meritocratic system so that people would be discouraged in putting on effort. It all summed up, the exploitative upper-class person contributed a lot on instilling a psychology that encourages indolence.
This would not have happened if the transition between the colonial regime into a free sovereign nation at the dawn of the 20th century have been controlled. If the Katipunan had not been a more secretive organization, then it’s members would have recognized the legitimacy of its leader. Even though the organization could be revealed at an earlier time, a strong leadership can lead into a collective and organized action. It could have sparked the creation of a unified nation. But instead, after being found out and in pandemonium, the Katipunan initiated unorganized attacks on the outskirts of Manila. The other members who were not fully recognizing Bonifacio’s leadership saw the Supremo’s attacks as a diversion to Spanish forces. They have capitalized the opening on the Spanish ranks, therefore they’ve achieved early victories. Filipinos, including intellectuals, were seguristas who wanted assurances. They would only join if they saw a glimpse of victory. Those victorious, upon gaining followers, were most encouraged to lead the revolution amongst themselves. With the ethnocentrism that the Spaniards have imbued in the naturally fragmented archipelago, there was no real national unity in the revolution. The patron-client relationships also added to the disorganization of the revolution. One might be asking on where indolence came into equation. Indolence, in the general sense, is the absence of effort. Effort comes in two ways: physical and mental. There was lack in mental effort to get rid of the mindsets that the Spanish colonialism gave which endorsed multi-ethnicity and ethnocentric values, in short, lack of trust. They were also indolent when it came to debates, discussion and the like, holding their egos and pride dearly and un-baptized. Therefore, they came up with their own conclusions on the situations. Indolence made unity a practical impossibility during the revolution.
Misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Dr. Rizal and maybe even Dr. Rizal were at fault here of not endorsing the revolution that lead to all of the shortcomings. Dr. Rizal, who was unaware of the events, fell into indolence into knowing how capable Andres Bonifacio was in leading a revolution. He had his partiality that only those in Europe were capable and only those in Europe were considered intellectuals. His viewpoint was immensely negated by the emergence of the likes of Emilio Jacinto and Apolinario Mabini. Both were proven to be great intellectual despite their financial shortcomings and inability to study on the European schools. Apolinario Mabini was proven to be the anti-thesis of the Indolence of the Filipinos and maybe of Rizal himself. Mabini was able to achieve his status even though impoverished and bound by social chains. He was able to prove wrong that there has to be a reform on education and free press for him to be educated and enlightened. He never succumbed to indolence and the conditions that enforced it. If Rizal recognized these instances and gave his approval and his connections to fellow illustrados to the Katipunan, Katipunan would be a strong, supported and unified revolutionary organization. It was never a question of class struggle. It was only a question of motives… personal motives.
Bygones are bygones. The revolution met its end. Bonifacio was dead. A fragmented society emerged. Republica Filipina turned that way politically.